How Offshore Tax Havens Destroy Governments

Last fall, Greek magazine editor Kostas Vaxevanis published in his magazine Hot Doc a list of 2,000 wealthy Greeks who were hiding taxable savings in the Geneva branch of HSBC. The list had been furnished years earlier by the then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to the Greek government, who did nothing in regards to chasing after the money or the offenders […]

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Are average Canadians paying too much in taxes?

On April 23, the Fraser Institute released the annual update of their misleading Consumer Tax Index report. The piece is meant to feed the anti-tax sentiment with numbers sprinkled liberally for their shock value instead of providing any meaningful analysis. Here are some of the main flaws with the report’s methodology. If what follows sounds familiar, it’s because I’m drawing […]

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Tax and the Top 1%

Further to Toby’s comments, Miles Corak has posted an excellent commentary on the new numbers on high incomes, together with a spread sheet showing average effective tax rates by income group from the 1980s. The big story is that the average effective tax rate for the very affluent has been stable since the early 1980s as their income share has […]

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Canada’s bloated 1 per cent

Statistics Canada’s release on the escalating incomes of the top 1 per cent gained a lot of media coverage — and also provoked some very defensive reactions by major organs of the Canadian media. This included an almost rabid column by Financial Post editor Terence Corcoran accusing Statistics Canada of engaging in class warfare and, in a McCarthyite manner, personally attacking […]

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GHG Cap & Trade

This is a guest blog post written by Whitehorse-based economist, Luigi Zanasi.  Please feel free to comment.  Also, please note that this was written before Marc’s blog post of Jan. 14 re: BC’s carbon tax. — Towards a fair cap & trade system for GHG emissions In the last two federal elections, the NDP quite rightly rejected the idea of […]

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What’s next for BC’s carbon tax?

An oped of mine was published by the Vancouver Sun today: What’s next for BC’s carbon tax? Marc Lee Climate change forced its way onto the political agenda in 2012, as Hurricane Sandy ripped through the northeast United Stages just days before the election. And while action remains frustratingly slow, extreme weather disasters in the billions of dollars are making […]

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Time to Rethink The Way We Fund Higher Education

This September, like every year, a new group of high school graduates headed to college or university to pursue higher education. But today’s generation of students is in for a very different experience from the ones their parents had. On campuses across the country shiny new buildings are popping up, bearing corporate logos or the names of local philanthropists. But […]

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What’s Next for BC’s Carbon Tax?

The Minister leading up BC’s Carbon Tax Review, Kevin Falcon, may be gone – his departure came just as the deadline for submissions was closing – but the carbon tax lives on. For now. Back in 2008 when the carbon tax was announced, it was scheduled to rise from an initial level of $10 per tonne (2.3 cents at the […]

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Canadian banks use of tax havens keeps growing

A growing share of Canada’s investment overseas is being channeled by Canadian banks into tax havens. The latest Statistics Canada figures  show 24% of Canadian direct investment overseas in 2011 went to the top twelve tax havens, up from 10% in 1987.   In fact, tax havens of the Barbados, Cayman Islands, Ireland, Luxembourg and Bermuda were five of the top eight […]

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TFSAs: Cutting Taxes for the Affluent

The latest issue of the Canadian Tax Journal has a number of articles on Tax-Free Savings Accounts. Among the papers of interest: Kevin Milligan projects the potential tax impact of accumulated TFSA contribution room by estimating what a mature TFSA would have meant for income taxation in 2005. Even short of doubling the contribution limit to $10,000, Milligan finds a […]

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Freedom from government services day

Well well, another misinformed tax freedom day has come and gone on June 12th.  To mark the occasion this year I wanted to skip over the very serious methodological flaws that others have pointed out, and take a look at several other items that Canadians are “free of” at various points.  By gaining “freedom” from the taxes that Canadians pay we also […]

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Mining in the NWT: Who Gets What?

In a recent blog post at Northern Public Affairs, Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox looks at the issue of ‘who gets what?’ when a mine is developed in the Northwest Territories (NWT). Here is an excerpt from the post: – The resource extractor: they pay royalties (the NWT has the lowest royalties in the world), and costs of production, then sell the resource […]

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Neil Reynolds’ Fuzzy Tax Math

If you need help with your tax return, don’t ask Neil Reynolds. His latest attack on the New Democrat proposal to collect modestly more tax from Ontario’s super-rich stated that “the province’s highest marginal rate on personal income would rise, federal and provincial rates combined, from 46.4 per cent to 49.4 per cent – meaning that this rate would theoretically net […]

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A Bank for the Taxpayer’s Buck?

Hi all, I interrupt your regular blog viewing to bring you one of my infrequent posts, this time by a guest contributor — Alan Milner — who for reasons of job security, must remain anonymous.  With no further ado: ******************************************************************* A  Bank for the Taxpayer’s Buck? The Canadian tax system provides a variety of incentives meant to support the productive […]

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Taxing Ontario’s Richest

Ontario’s NDP was out today with a Robin Hood proposal to collect more provincial tax from personal incomes in excess of half a million dollars. The approximately $570 million of additional revenue would increase the Ontario Disability Support Plan, protect childcare spaces and remove provincial HST from home heating. UBC economist Kevin Milligan has been tweeting his estimate that the […]

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Taxing High Incomes in Ontario

It is notable that the scale of  Ontario’s ostensibly dire fiscal position did not prompt any major response on the tax side, beyond postponing planned reductions to the corporate tax rate. The government could have raised taxes on high income earners as at least a token of solidarity with everybody from social assistance recipients  to public sector workers who is […]

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Debunking Drummond

The Drummond report claims that Ontario is headed for a $30-billion deficit. This figure has been widely and uncritically reported. For example, The Globe and Mail printed four articles featuring this number in its February 18 edition. The Ontario government projected a balanced budget with a $1-billion contingency reserve by 2017-18. To instead project a deficit of $30.2 billion, Drummond […]

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Why taxing food staples should not be considered a policy option in Canada

Here’s an excellent piece by Sam Boshra, about the recent proposal by Michael Smart and Jack Mintz to apply the GST to food, from Sam’s blog at Economic Justice: Low-income households can’t buy food today with a larger HST rebate they hope to get sometime in the future.  A key objective of the social safety net, welfare, disability, unemployment, child tax, […]

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Tax Shifting

Earlier this week, the Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab published a piece by Stephen Gordon arguing that high income and corporate taxes won’t generate much revenue.  Gordon used used the metaphor of Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s (finance minister to the Louis XIV, the “Sun King”) that the art of taxation was like plucking feathers from a goose: “ obtain the largest amount of feathers with […]

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Cost of Inequitable Tax Loopholes Increases

Finance Canada published its annual Tax Expenditure Report for 2011 and it shows that the cost of some of the most inequitable tax preferences and loopholes continues to rise. For instance the stock option deduction, which allows CEOs and executives to pay tax at half the rate of ordinary working income, is estimated to cost the federal government $725 million last year. […]

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Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

December marked the three-year anniversary of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. While I believe there is much to celebrate, much remains to be done. The Strategy surprised a lot of observers, especially in light of the fact that it was announced in December 2008, just as Ontario was entering a recession.  Its focus was almost exclusively child poverty, and at full […]

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Social Insurance Benefits Increase!

Amidst the plethora of media reports on “payroll tax” increases for 2012, there was little mention of increases in benefits.  For example, the Toronto Sun,cued by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, reported: If you feel a hand grabbing at your wallet next week, calling the cops won’t do any good because it’s the federal government picking your pocket. It’s that time […]

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Flaherty’s Christmas List – all Mixed Up

Following recent dismal reports on rising unemployment, stagnant GDP growth, and a deteriorating economic outlook, we can only hope federal Finance minister Jim Flaherty will provide some Christmas cheer with changes “to better promote job creation and economic growth” (as he’s  asked for advice on through his pre-budget consultations). Unfortunately, Santa Flaherty seems to have got his Christmas list all […]

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Taxing Capital Gains

The following also appears in The Globe and Mail’s Economy Lab: Earlier this week, Kevin Milligan questioned proposals to increase the tax on capital gains. Currently, Canadian income tax applies to only 50 per cent of capital gains. Milligan argues that light personal taxation is justified for income that has already been subject to corporate tax. He quickly expands the […]

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Is Money Enough? The Meaning of 6% and Flaherty’s Health “Plan”

As Christmas presents go, this one was a shocker:  Over lunch on Monday, cash-strapped Finance Minister Jim Flaherty promised provincial and territorial finance ministers he’d increase federal funding for health care by six per cent each year for the next five years.  No strings attached. No negotiations.  A done deal.  With a catch. The provinces and territories have five years […]

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